Yes, this seems like a strange headline to have to see, but the Volleyball Federation of India has had to release a statement declaring that they have not, in fact, suspended their men’s and women’s volleyball teams (nor barred the current teams’ players from representing the country) after their performance at the 2018 Asian Games.
But these are strange times in Indian volleyball. As the sport on one side seems on the precipice of monumental growth, including the launching of a pro league with support of FIVB, on the other hand it seems drenched in the same chaos that caused the entire federation to be suspended from international competition by the FIVB for 2 years.
The Indian men finished 12th out of 20 teams (they were the 5th seeds coming into the tournament), while the Indian women went 1-6 and finished 10th out of 11 teams, with their only win coming against Hong Kong in the 11th place classification match.
The controversy stems from the fact that a post on a Facebook page entitled “Volleyball Federation of India,” which had been online for a long time but has since been taken down, read that because of poor performance, the teams would be suspended, and their players would be suspended individually for 5 years. This post was picked up by domestic media in India, before the General Secretary of the Volleyball Federation of India denied its authenticity.
But, with so much dispute and debate over who is in charge (that dispute is what led to the initial suspension), it can be hard to identify who speaks for the organization and who doesn’t, and that confusion causes these problems. The Bridge says that they verified the authenticity of the page by speaking with what they called “a former Volleyball [sic] player who is also an erstwhile official of the VFI.”
Volleyball was also at the center of a controversy as to whether they should even be included, as only top 8 teams in the continent are supposed to be eligible (by India’s own rules) for the Asian Games. The women’s team was not ranked as such, but the men’s soccer team was left out of the tournament citing that qualification.
The VFI instead pushed the poor performances on the lack of international competition for 2 years, and said that they have “full confidence and faith in both Men and Women Volleyball players” and that they are preparing teams for the upcoming Asian Men’s and Women’s Championships, as well as the upcoming Asian U-23 Championships.